June 11 Primary Preview: Part II

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, June 11, 2024


As covered in yesterday’s column, four states and a special election are on the ballot today. We looked at the situations in Maine, Nevada, and North Dakota in the previous update.

Today, we concentrate on the two key South Carolina Republican US House primaries, as voters simultaneously will fill another US House vacancy in eastern Ohio.

Two-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston).

South Carolina — With no statewide race on the primary ballot, voters in the Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg areas become tonight’s major focal points.

In the Charleston-anchored 1st Congressional District, a domain that was challenged as a racial gerrymander, but one that the US Supreme Court verified as a legitimate draw, we see two-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) fighting to win renomination.

Her main opponent is former Gov. Nikki Haley Administration official and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton who is certainly a credible challenger. While Rep. Mace has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, she was also one of the eight Republicans to vote to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, meaning outside money is coming into the district to oppose her. Controversy also arose around the congresswoman when her entire DC staff resigned in protest of her management style.

While polling finds Mace well ahead of Templeton, South Carolina is a runoff state, so candidates must reach the 50 percent threshold to win a nomination. A third candidate, non-profit organization executive Bill Young, could play a role in forcing Rep. Mace into a runoff. If the two women run close, even a single-digit performance from Young could help create a secondary election.

South Carolina is also unique in that they employ only a two-week runoff schedule. Therefore, if a runoff occurs, the second election will be scheduled for June 25, leaving little time to run a major campaign.

So far this year, we have seen contested incumbents prevail in every situation. The same may occur for Rep. Mace tonight, but the question remains as to whether she can win outright.

Northwest on I-26 from Charleston at the other end of the state is the Greenville-Spartanburg-anchored 4th Congressional District. In 2022, Rep. William Timmons (R-Greenville) found himself attracting just over 52 percent against three opponents. His poor performance was largely due to adverse publicity coming from the exposure of an extramarital affair breaking shortly before that primary election. In 2022, Timmons did not have a Democratic opponent, so there was no further threat for him to overcome.

This year, Timmons arguably faces a much tougher primary opponent in state Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Greenville). This is a one-on-one Republican primary race, so the nomination will be decided tonight.

Rep. Morgan is attacking Rep. Timmons from the political right, and he does have a base within the district. Timmons will likely prevail though the final result may be tighter than the congressman would hope.

Democrats did file a candidate this year. In the general election, tonight’s winner will face Spartanburg County Democratic chair Kathryn Harvey. In a 4th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+27, the seat will remain in the Republican column regardless of who claims the GOP nomination.

OH-6 — In the cycle’s 6th special election, tonight we see eastern Ohio state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) poised to replace resigned US Rep. Bill Johnson (R).

Sen. Rulli really won the election when he outdueled state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus 49-41 percent in the special Republican primary. The Democratic nominee, businessman Michael Kripchak, had raised only $22,000-plus through the May 22 pre-election campaign finance reporting period. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates OH-6 as R+31, meaning the election will be over early in the evening.

The Rulli victory will give the House Republicans 219 members as compared to the Democrats’ 213. There will be three remaining vacancies. One, the race to replace resigned Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R), will be filled on June 25, concurrently with the state primary election.

The other two will be open until possibly a lame duck session. Rep. Donald Payne Jr.’s death leaves the 10th District of New Jersey vacant. He posthumously won the Democratic Party nomination for the regular term, and the local county committees will replace him as soon as the July 16 special primary concludes. It is clear the committee members will then nominate the individual who wins the special Democratic primary.

The remaining vacancy is the Wisconsin seat of resigned Rep. Mike Gallagher (R). Due to the date of his resignation, there will be no special election to replace him prior to the November 5th regular general election.

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